One of the things that IBMA promotes heavily is education—the music, and about the music business. To that end they have a wide variety of seminars throughout the week on topics ranging from the technical side of the music (“New Developments in Live Sound Technology”), to personal well-being (“Weight Management and Diabetes Prevention on the Bluegrass Road”); from internet marketing and social networking to how to negotiate a contract. This year they have the largest variety of truly useful topics that they’ve had yet. I’ve been to several and each has been wonderfully informative.
For Monday’s “Teaching Bluegrass: An Alternative Revenue Stream” moderators Ned Luberecki and Megan Lynch were joined by panelists Terry Baucom, Stephen Mougin, and myself. Many players rely on teaching to get them through the slim winter months when the gigs are few and far between. We covered many different avenues of instruction including private lessons, group lessons, workshops, camps, DVDs and books, and internet lessons. The last is a recent development and not many people are offering this option yet. Strangely (to us anyway) Mike Compton has been on the leading edge of this technology and has been doing internet lessons for quite a while. Anyone interested in pursuing that avenue, either as a teacher or as a student, should consult his FAQ page.
Tuesday’s “Writing for the Internet: Blogging and Building an Audience” was hosted by our own John Lawless. Panelists included Ashby Frank, sometime contributor to this publication who blogs on his own website; Ted Lehmann of Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books and Brainstorms blog, and Craig Shelburne who contributes to and edits the blog over at CMT.com. Despite what it looks like in the picture, the discussion was lively and extended. The crux of the discussion was that blogging should be entertaining to the audience, who you hope will come back to your site on a regular basis. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are good tools to use to drive people to your site where, hopefully, they’ll buy your CD, or look at your schedule and come out to a show. It’s all about staying connected to people and letting them get to know you through your writing.
They talked a little bit about the technical side of blogging—using programs such as WordPress, or Blogger—but mostly about the power of changing content to get people to visit your site every day or every week. Bluegrass Today is the best at this. I don’t know about you but even when I’m not writing for the Blog I read it every day and it is my main source of bluegrass news.